Staff Spotlight: Joy Richardson, CPA


Posted by Kathy Drumm

Topic(s): About FHB, Our Experts, Staff Spotlight, Careers

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Joy joined FHB as a Principal Consultant in 2018. Her focus is assisting clients as they manage and automate varied and complex financial activities. Joy brings extensive experience as an auditor, local government finance officer, and governmental software consultant (specializing in sales, implementation, training, and support). Having managed budget and year-end financial reporting processes as CFO of a local government entity, she has in-depth knowledge of governmental practices and reporting. Joy has also performed audit and tax engagements of governments and nonprofits, and managed a client services practice focused on small businesses and nonprofits.  

She holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation, a bachelor's degree in accounting, and a bachelor's degree in business administration. 

We sat down with Joy to discuss her experience at FHB. The following are excerpts from that meeting.  

Q: What were you doing before coming to FHB?

A: So, I kind of laugh and say that I did a circle to get here. I came directly from Questica, who was a partner [of FHB]. And I had gotten to Questica because they had been a partner in my previous employment. So, it just was kind of a natural fit. I had wound up working with Jamie [Jamie Black, President of FHB] on some projects...and I really liked...working with one day I said, “Hey, if you ever happen to have an opening, I'd be interested.” And he said, “When would you like to start?” True story. 

Q: What is a highlight of your experience here?

A: I came [to FHB] with the expectation of learning one software. And then when we started expanding and changing with partners and growing with different technologies, I felt like, being someone in their 50s, I was going to have to learn something new that maybe I couldn't—that it might be a little more challenging. So, to...have the opportunity to learn. Every day is a challenge...and an adventure. I'm never bored here. Just being given that opportunity to learn something yet again, and to still be counted as so important. Because some people think changing careers or learning something new is what happens when you get out of college. And I'm obviously a minute or two out of college. So just being...included and given that opportunity to learn a whole new software...and help move our firm down that next road and help other people. That's a really big personal achievement for me. 

Q: Why did you choose FHB?

A: Oh, that was an easy one. Previously, I'd spent more than 10 years at an organization that was continually buying business units. There might have been 500 people that worked for the corporation when I went there. And over 10 years, we had more than 1,500. So...I had a job path and a career [where] I was always going to be busy, but I didn't really have a voice. [At the time] FHB was a small group...I wanted to be more in a family environment where people knew my name, and knew something about me, and my contribution would count. And from everything that I had seen just by working with Jamie, and...I had done a few things with Darryl [Darryl Parker, CPA, CMA, FHB Director, Solutions Design & Architecture] as well, and hearing how Jamie talked about the firm, I wanted to get back to...doing more implementation and helping clients like I used to...I didn't want to be on the sales side of life. I do like to help others...coming in here, I felt like my voice was heard, and that I could make a contribution and offer some suggestions as far as growth and what we were going to do and those kinds of things. 

Q: What do you think FHB gets right that other places miss?

A: I think the biggest thing we do is pay attention to the client. We hear what their pain points are. [We don’t] just go in and implement software because that's what we do...sometimes the hardest message is, “Well, the software doesn't do that [and there is no workaround.]” Here, we're like, “Oh, you wanted it to do that? Well, it may not do that today. But let's find some alternatives.”...we're going to try to figure out a way to get you an answer. It may be different...sometimes it's just training the client on how to think outside of the box.  

I feel like we [are] in it for the client. It's that long term relationship. And since I have had some clients move with me to three different companies [over 15 years], they followed me to F. H. Black. That's a huge win for me...I have clients that started out as clients that are really friends, they're friends on Facebook, they're friends when I see him at the conference,...we've gone to dinner, and I've met their family, and those kinds of things. And I think...what we do [is] just much more personable. 

Q: Can you think of a time that one of your coworkers stepped in to help you? 

A: Gee, how many times has that happened? I'll go with the most recent. My mother fell and broke her hip last week, I and everybody stepped in—people that I was working on projects with, people that I wasn't working on projects with—I wound up working maybe an hour or two a day and having the flexibility of having my laptop at the hospital. And everybody bent over backwards. When I would check in and say, “Do I need any follow up?” They literally had done everything. So, I could review the status updates, and be caught back up. So, that's the most recent, and...the one that means the most to me right now. Being able to be here with my mom. 

Q: It sounds like a supportive culture. Is there anything else about the culture at FHB you'd like to speak about? 

A: Of course, just the fact that it's remote. Maybe that's not for everybody. People think, “Oh, remote work, you're isolated, you don't get to see this or do that.” And that's not the case. Obviously, [we use] video conferencing, teams chats and things like that. But just having the ability to work from home. Some people have the idea that working from home, people don't work a full load. My struggle has always been that working from home, I'll do more work than I would have if I was in the office, if I had to commute and dress and take a forced phone lunch and all of that.

[And] obviously, the teamwork, the whole orientation of “we're all here to help each other.” And we do that. I've got a client right now that is due to go live and be closed, and all of this [with my mother] has happened. And other people have just stepped in to help on my projects to make sure that we still meet those timelines. 

Q: How do you think we've ended up with such a positive culture? What do you attribute that to? 

A: I always blame Jamie Black. I tell him all the time that he is the master of puzzle pieces. He looks at each one of us. As he's talking to us, he finds your skill set. He doesn't look for that perfect person to fit in that perfect hole. He looks at, here's the fuller puzzle...he can see that big picture. He sees skills and talents in each one of us that we might not recognize. I know he's done that for me. And he has just been able to bring your best assets out, he gives you that opportunity to shine. And...maybe you want to do this, but that's not on the agenda or in the plan immediately. He remembers that. And he communicates clearly, “We're not there yet. But when we are, we'll get back to that.” So, I think that's the biggest piece of this is just looking at that whole big picture and always looking forward. 

Q: How does FHB support you to do your best work? 

A: Well, obviously, the tools. Not just the software and the laptop, but the education as well. Being a CPA, we all have required hours that we have to do. But we're allowed to focus and direct that as well, on where our talents are, what our requirements are, that type of thing. So, for example, I work largely with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) projects, and our GASB Lite tool. So, the majority of my continuing education, for the last two years, has been related to all the GASB pronouncements. So...being included, being in the communication, being in the meetings, having a vote, understanding where we are, where we're going, all of that ties together, for me. 

Q: Tell me about your role as a manager and mentor for your FHB teammates. 

A: Well, that's one of those skills that I didn't know I had, that Jamie Black saw in me...and it's been great. With anybody starting a new job, I feel like you need a coach or a mentor to help navigate so that you learn how things are. I tell everybody, it's like being a senior in high school, and you know the lay of the land, you are the king and queen of the prom. And then at the end of the summer, you start college, and you don't know where the ladies' room is, you don't know where the cafeteria is, and you don't even know where to park. Anytime you start a new job, it's that way. For me, it's not just about teaching people technical skills. I like to show them the tools that we use, why we use them, because I'm a very big, "why" person... there's nothing like getting somebody through their first 90 days. And they're as excited if not more so at 90 days to have this new career and this new job with us than they were on day one...I'm their cheerleader, I'm their coach. Everybody needs a buddy until they...get to know other people and start to grow within the family. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about working here? 

A: It's just knowing that I can make a difference every day. It's not the easy things, like all the flexibility, and I can wear shorts, as long as I have on a decent work shirt, or those kinds of things. I have clients that smile when I start a client meeting, and they're happy that we're doing something. That makes a difference. Knowing that if I'm not there, somebody is going to say, “Is something wrong?” And then, of course, if I need somebody they're there, which everybody has proven once again. 

I told Jamie at five years, “I've been here five years. And you’re kind of stuck with me, because I'm looking to retire. This is my home.” I knew that years ago. But like with many people, you go through a phase of getting burned out or getting tired or thinking you're stuck in a rut, and I hit that bump in the road [after] about three years here. For the first time in my career, I reached out and said, “This is kind of where I'm at.” And Jamie stopped and listened [and said], “What do we need to do?” So...we worked on work/life balance and, “What do you like or not like? What could we change?” And of course, it was within reason. But just to have someone hear me made all the difference in the world. And I reached inside and found out that I too could change. If he was willing to be open and helpful and make that investment in me, then that really just sealed the loyalty, so he's stuck now. Loyalty for life. 

Q: How important do you think it is to our clients that the people who work here have actually done what they do, and I can relate to what they're going through? 

A: Oh, I think it's 100%. I do. If I were on the other side still and there were options of people that had never done my job versus the ones that had, I'd sign up with the ones that had. Every day of the week. Because we understand that sometimes you just can't make your deliverables. There's a lot going on, it's a busy season, and we need to postpone something, or we need to work overtime that week—or whatever the stresses are, working with government. Sometimes it is just a matter of [having to] meet deadlines for council meetings or public engagements or whatever the case is. And there are certain things that you can't change. We can offer all the great ideas in the world, but sometimes people are trapped, just simply because that's "the way it's done here." You have to understand that and know that not every suggestion is going to be taken. But most people are willing to listen to our best practices, especially when they come to us and [say], "So, you've done this a couple of hundred times, and you used to do this job. What do you have to offer or suggest?” It's just a case of being heard. I think it's huge to clients.  

For more on this topic(s), see: About FHB, Our Experts, Staff Spotlight, Careers

Originally Posted on 16 November, 2023

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